Proposed Catechism Revision — Resolution to Express Concern

Resolution from the Pastors of the Eldora Circuit of Iowa District East.


20161006_143222_resizedTo Express Serious Concern with the Catechism Revision


The following resolution was drafted for the purpose of discussion and dissemination among our fellow brothers in the Ministry. It is also intended to demonstrate to the Committee the gravity of our concerns about the contents of the Catechism Revision in its current form. There are numerous areas of concern that we have with the theological content and general direction of the Revision, particularly in the first two sections of the Revision on the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed. One of our chief concerns is the first article language that is woven into almost every part of the Catechism explanation, even when the subject matter does not call for it. Additionally, the Catechism explanation focuses almost exclusively on God as Creator rather than on God as Father. Also problematic, in our opinion, is the removal of any confrontation with sin in the Commandments, where the negative prohibitions of the Law are spoken of in a positive context. This essentially takes the teeth out of the Law and makes the Law seem attainable. Finally, language that is considered offensive to feminists is conspicuously avoided, for example, replacing “men” with “human creatures.” We do not find this to be helpful, nor do we approve of being politically correct at the expense of biblical faithfulness. With that in mind, we offer the following resolution:

WHEREAS, the Synod has undertaken a revision of the Small Catechism with Explanation and has invited feedback from the members of Synod, and

WHEREAS, condition for membership in the Synod requires “exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymnbooks, and catechisms in church and school” (Handbook 2013, p. 15), and

WHEREAS, this Catechism revision marks a radical departure from the questions and answers in previous versions of the Synod’s catechisms, and

WHEREAS, the Catechism revision omits the distinction between Law and Gospel in its explanation of Holy Scripture and mistakenly places our trust in the Bible in the fact that it has “led us to trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord” (Q8, p. 12) rather than in its divine authorship and inerrancy, and

WHEREAS, the Catechism revision softens the force of the Law by (1) presenting the negative prohibitions of the Law in the context of keeping the law, and (2) omitting the traditional (and helpful) “God forbids…God requires” language that was present in previous versions of the Catechism, and

WHEREAS, many of the questions in the First Commandment focus on the human side of things (e.g. “We cherish,” “we take God seriously”) rather than simply stating what God requires and forbids of us, and

WHEREAS, the explanation of the sixth commandment lacks any helpful instruction on how to curb and avoid temptation to sexual sin, such as one finds in the 1912 Catechism: “That we quench the evil desires with God’s Word and prayer, industry and temperance, and that we flee and avoid all opportunity for unchasteness,” and

WHEREAS, the prominence of first article language throughout the sections on the Ten Commandments and the Creed (including the second and third articles) is not only unnecessary, but leads to a confusion of Law and Gospel, introduces a new and foreign way of speaking about humanity (e.g. “human creatures/nonhuman creatures”) and essentially supplants Redemption as the primary theological theme, and

WHEREAS, in the section on the Creed, the Fatherhood of God is barely mentioned (three bullet-points on p. 58) and God is identified more by his work (Creator) than by who He is ontologically (Father) (See especially Q96, p. 56, which mistakenly says that the Creed begins by confessing God as “Maker” rather than “Father”), and

WHEREAS, the focus on creation theology leads to an undue and even unbiblical focus on environmental issues (see, e.g. Questions 61-62), and

WHEREAS, the Catechism Revision omits question 23 from the 1991 Catechism, which is essential for our understanding of the Law, “Who is able to keep this and other commandments?” and

WHEREAS, in several instances, material that should be presented at the outset of a topic is made available as supplemental material. For example, the Doctrine of the Trinity is explained only in a “Supplement to the Creed” (p. 108) and Q24 “Who is the only true God” is left to the end of the First Commandment in “Connections and Applications,” and

WHEREAS, the Catechism Revision is pedagogically inferior to the previous version of the Catechism, expanding answers into long paragraphs that do not facilitate easy assimilation by a younger age group, be it therefore

RESOLVED, that the pastors of the Eldora Circuit of the Iowa District East express our serious concerns regarding the doctrinal purity of this Catechism Revision to the Revision Committee, and be it finally

RESOLVED, that the Committee be urged to exercise caution and restraint in revising the 1991 Catechism, taking a more conservative approach.


Respectfully submitted,

Rev. Paul L. Beisel
Rev. Dr. Matthew Rueger
Rev. Michael Kearney
Rev. Travis Berg
Rev. David Splett
Rev. Karl Bollhagen


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